Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Saturday, June 30, 2012


One of the troubling things about the country these past 20 years has been the predominance of enablers in the media. No matter how dangerous, bigoted or vile your position is, you'll be able to find some so-called journalism to approve of what you say and do. These enablers are cowards at heart: witness how Rush Limbaugh retreats to his "I'm an entertainer" citadel whenever someone acts on what sounds a lot like his advice, or when his act crosses a line.

Kevin Paul Dupont could profit from this example. If you don't read the Globe sports pages, you miss his column. He is an admitted--proud, even--hater of bicyclists. (Much of the year, he covers hockey, by the way: make of that what you will.) Being in the sports pages perhaps assures him of an audience--one whose collective knuckles drag when they walk, but an audience all the same.

Let us take his July 1, 2012 column as our text for today. (Note: you may need a subscription to read this.) To the extent that any print rant can be said to contain arguments, this column seems to argue that:
  • Kids today don't ride bicycles
  • Therefore adults shouldn't; adult cyclists shouldn't inconvenience people who drive machines that weigh 100 times more than childish bicycles
  • Since all Dupont ever sees are groups of cyclists in bright costumes, that must be all of them, and they must have some comical objective, like riding in the Tour de France
Let's parse these points.

First, in many places, we see fewer children on bicycles because we see fewer children doing anything independent. His nostalgic recollection of about 55 years ago goes back to the time when riding bikes was basic training for driving. I see no evidence that lack of such childhood training has improved anything on the roads.

If kids don't ride bikes but, instead, adults take it up de novo, doesn't that rather ruin the argument that cycling is a childish pastime? So are baseball and hockey, a thought which is close to heresy in the Sports pages.

Dupont's third point takes us back to the Ballantine hypothesis. One cyclist, especially in street clothes, is invisible. Same goes for one motorcyclist. Ten cyclists in bright colours, riding in close formation, are not only visible but present a challenge to narrow minds in cars. Dupont sees no other cyclists but road bikers en peleton because all the others are invisible--to him, and to everyone who doesn't want to share with anything having fewer than four wheels. What's scary is that those invisible cyclists probably include children. (Remember, his entire argument that kids don't ride bikes rests on a single slender sampling.)

Coming to this insight, I have to revise my previous comment that bicyclists don't have the recourse to intimidation that motorcyclists have. Evidently they do, at least to the heart of a bike hater. For any two-wheeled vehicle there is safety in numbers. The bicycle can't generate loud enough noise to call attention to itself, but its rider can resort to loud colours and bright lights to achieve the same end. Another Ballantine observation is that an urban cyclist should be decked out like a Christmas tree. It's not comical at all: it's survival.

I have little doubt that most bike haters are also anti-motorcycle. But they can't say so in public, lest the Hell's Angels show up at the front door to express their feelings. It seems safer to them to attack the smaller number of perceived outsiders on the weaker vehicle, a group the hater perceives as comical and defenceless.

Dupont comments that he finds bicycles "complicated." This opens the door to yet another possible motivation of bike-haters: jealousy. If one never learnt to ride a bike, one might direct one's anger and frustration at that failure toward those who did learn.

This is probably the point at which Dupont rises up to say that his column was entertainment, not journalism. I agree that it isn't journalism. It is the sort of drivel that most of us have produced under deadline pressure at one time or another. But the Globe, having little that passes for sound editorial judgment, actually prints such copy. The trouble with this form of "entertainment" is that it validates hatred of the more psychotic variety: the type that deliberately grazes or hits cyclists, opens doors in their path, assaults them when they're stopped, runs them off the road, or pulls guns on them. I'm not making those examples up. They've all happened to me or fellow cyclists. No, Kevin, I'm not entertained.

Perhaps, as Harrumpher commented on my last go, bike-hating is a secret handshake of solidarity. If so, what an utter waste. A rational society would direct its outrage at individual offenders on public ways, no matter what vehicle, if any, they use. Applying the same curse equally to one group, and that the least numerous, is nothing but hairy chest-pounding. I don't expect that sort of rationality anytime soon. Kevin, hie thee to a hockey rink.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Why can't we all get along?

Recent rumblings here and there have had me thinking over the extreme difficulty Americans have in sharing the road. I am a cyclist: also a motorist and a pedestrian when the occasion demands, and we'll come back to that. Twice a week, when I work an afternoon shift, I've been riding to work, about a nine-mile round trip, half of it on busy streets. Thursday was typical: no assaults or catcalls from motor vehicles, which in all honesty was more common when I started this, over 30 years ago, than it is now. However, three, that's three, jaywalking pedestrians walked in front of me in the space of a few blocks, all less than 50 feet away. Being especially careful to avoid pedestrians, I stopped for all three; not one showed any sign of registering my existence. I'm rather slower than I was in my salad days, which makes avoidance easier.

I believe I once before quoted bicycle activist Richard Ballantine on this subject. He advocated very defensive cycling, based on two assumptions. First, to most people you are quite literally invisible. Second, to those who do see you, bicycle=nine-year-old kid= five mph=no threat. Despite repeated experiences to the contrary, both observations hold true today. Even at my advanced age and relatively low speed, I represent a gross vehicle weight of over 200 pounds travelling about 175 feet in ten seconds. That means if you dart out 50 feet in front on me, I'll be on you in under three seconds. If I am alert, it will take nearly half that time to stop a bicycle going only 12 mph with four brake shoes smaller than a baby's little finger. If I am even slightly inattentive, that impact will happen and it will hurt, because I will hit you with a force close to 1000 foot/pounds. And you will blame me. If you are in a vehicle and do the same thing, the physics are the same, but I will sustain most of the damage, and you will still blame me.

The cycle of ignorance wouldn't annoy bikers so much if it were not they who are almost always at the end of the circle of blame. I have seldom met a pedestrian dedicated to carrying on a lifelong vendetta against motorists, or vice versa. Yet one can hardly bring up this subject without turning up both pedestrians and motorists who stoke and nurse lifelong hostility toward cyclists. Dig a little and one finds, often, that this rage stems from one incident some variable time ago. Pedestrians, yes, do have something to fear from collisions with cyclists, collisions both can usually avoid by purging their minds of half-century-old delusions. Hostile motorists, on the other hand, may want to consider anger management as well as education, since what they drive meets the legal standard of a deadly weapon. The number of drivers hostile to bicycles has been slowly shrinking over the last 30 years, at least in my experience, but the ones who remain seem dedicated to making up the difference with aggressiveness and noise.

The circle of pedestrian blaming cyclist, cyclist blaming pedestrian, motorist blaming cyclist, etc., ad nauseam, resembles nothing so much as Thomas Nast's noted 19th century cartoon of the Tweed Ring, with everyone pointing the finger of blame at their neighbour:

In fact, everyone should be pointing that finger at themselves.

Speaking objectively, what makes a certain portion of motorists so enraged at cyclists? Probably one part is an unwillingness to share the road: note that motorcyclists report similar experiences. It's a commonplace among them that noisy pipes are a defence mechanism: the loud exhausts make the presence of a motorcycle patently obvious. The pipes plus the leathers plus the reputation make motorcyclists too intimidating for all but the most psychotic of drivers to cross. This does not work for bicyclists.

Further, all drivers are sometimes pedestrians, and most pedestrians are sometimes drivers. Despite the trouble both have in respecting the other's space, neither can claim ignorance of the other's experience.

A much smaller proportion of the population are adult cyclists. Thus we have ignorance of rights and of physics; thus we have invisibility, and thus we have a eagerness to shift blame onto the piece of the equation most people do not understand.

No one around here should put on airs and compare themselves favourably with other road users. In global public opinion, everyone occupying Greater Boston streets is almost as hostile and homicidal as Boston drivers, whose hostility is legendary the world over. The average performance of Boston cyclists can only rise above the norm if all cyclists originated in another dimension. At times, everyone concerned seems to think this is true.

If I weren't writing this, I'd already have forgotten those pedestrians (and the wrong-way bikers who complicated my life a couple of days before). Even writing about them, I'll forget the incidents I've mentioned in a fortnight. Why then is it necessary to nurse these grudges against cyclists for months, for years, for a lifetime? Does life offer nothing better?

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Oft evil will shall evil mar

Speaking as a recovered marketing type, there's only one thing I don't understand about the latest Belvedere Vodka outrage. Which is, why is it unexpected?

Advertising is an industry heavily populated by frat boys: adolescents past their prime. One is expected to get into the business right out of college. By the time one has reached an age at which common sense should predominate over hormones, one is either president of an agency or forced out of the business. This is age bigotry at its most refined.

Another thing that's just like frat boys: apparently, Nobody created the ad.
You know, one of the evil spirits from The Family Circus: Ida Know, Notme, and Nobody. It's understandable when little kids won't take responsibility for their actions, but not so much for theoretical adults in their 20s and early 30s.

If this were a single aberration, perhaps we could buy it, but Belvedere advertising has been in a death spiral for months, nearly a year. One hopes that with sick rape humour they've hit bottom, but of course there's still rape and murder to explore.

It strikes me there's a conflict here. On the one hand there's a mammalian response, the idea that anything that gets attention must be good. This runs the gamut of species: cat behaviourists explain why your kitties keep scratching the sofa by saying that if you yell at them, you're rewarding them. On the human end, there's the publicists' trope that "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

There is, however, such a thing as bad advertising. As I recall it was Jerry Della Femina who said that the sole purpose of advertising was to get consumers to try a product once. Advertising that gets caught up in its own jejeune cleverness and forgets to sell is by definition bad advertising. Every goddam thing done for Belvedere Vodka in the past year has been bad advertising. This is what you get when you let the children run the nursery.

I'm not much of a hard liquor drinker, I admit, but at this moment, I would sooner drink cat piss than Belvedere Vodka. If a product is trying so desperately to get my attention, I'd conclude there isn't much difference.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Teachable moments

This is the third day that I've been, practically speaking, deaf. Indications are that it's quite temporary. A sudden overproduction of cerumen has both reduced my hearing by over 75%, and favoured me with a non-stop Greek chorus of tinnitus. All this is a sign of age, I'm told. Sheee-ittt!

Today's first round of heftier treatment has given me a little more hearing in one ear: enough to hear my spouse yelling at me because the news shows are too loud. It's an encouraging sign that the rest of my hearing should be back in a few days.

But what if it didn't come back?

Many years ago, I was much involved in accessibility for historic sites, and dealt with people from a number of (spade a spade time) disabled populations. Historic sites like ours, using a great deal of textual information, were well-placed to handle the basics of communicating our message to people with hearing disabilities. What I found necessary to teach the staff had to do with getting beyond the basics. We had an interpretive programme that had built a reputation for doing just that: not just administering what a trustee called "cultural sheep-dip," but answering in-depth questions and giving people something to take away and think over. Interpreters needed the patience to listen attentively to the speech of those who could not fully (or at all) hear what they said. They needed in turn to be conscious of their own speech and enunciation when responding. Even skilled lip-readers may be less than 50% efficient, so the best-framed questions and answers might take two or three repetitions to become clear.

We still learn. This experience has come upon me in the working half of my week. What I do requires constant, detailed conversation and a good number of phone calls. Yesterday I luckily realised that my phone's volume control controlled the volume of the call as well as the ring, allowing me to get some phone stuff done. Yet I couldn't train my co-workers to adapt to my problem, and thus I shared just a little in the isolation and frustration that goes with hearing loss.

Those who hear can't understand. It's not stupidity; rather that the experience of even partial deafness is quite beyond them. The hearing live in a world of noise and sound. Not all who do not hear as you do hear nothing. Ears that don't work can produce a variety of sound that belongs only to the possessor. Those whose deafness is acquired still speak in their minds the words they want to make clear with their tongues. In this third day I've already begun to notice my articulation getting worn round the edges. The simplest statement already requires care and concentration.

In the several advocacy communities I worked with, the deaf at times had the name of being cranky and difficult to please. If I ever bought into that, I'm paying now with insight. If this were my lot hereafter, I would be even more cranky and hard to please than I already am.

(As I've been writing, I've had "Celtic Thunder" on in the background. A song has finally come up that I can distinguish as English and not Irish: and as a song.)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The curse of three.., sort of

There is this quartet of, umm, let's say connoisseurs of brewed alcoholic beverages, all of us (in theory) cyclists. In the recent past, we have suffered 50% casualties, and the question has been who would be the unlucky third?

Casualty #1 occurred on a Metro area bike path. The cause is unclear, as the vic suffered a concussion, despite wearing a helmet, and can remember nothing before coming to on the ground.

Casualty #2 took place on a Boston street. The culprit is believed to be an oil slick. In this case, the vic broke his clavicle and an unspecified number of ribs.

Of the remaining candidates, one is sunning himself in Florida, and his bike is presumably still doubling as a laundry rack at home. I, on the other hand, have begun commuting by bike two days a week. Despite today's events, I will continue to ride.

There is a bicycle path between the Salem State campus and Marblehead. The Salem end is chastely paved, short, and a fraction of its potential. The Marblehead end is gravelled and negotiable even on skinny tyres. The junction between the two ends leaves much to be desired.

Salem's path meets Route 114 near the harbour, on the oblique, as the original railbed did. Continuing the oblique evidently struck Salem's crack highway engineers as untidy, so they supplied a standard crosswalk at right angles to the road. To hit off the Marblehead path, the cyclist must make a slight left, cross the road, and reach the far side to the right of the path. That's right: the cyclist is obliged to cross the road, take a sharp right, and ride against traffic for 50 yards or so: so much for the rule of law. This doesn't even take into account the barriers at the two bridges just beyond the entrance. Anyone who can get through the barrier much above walking speed is ready for the Tour de France.

One can do all this--just--if there are no distractions. Today, leaving aside the usual traffic, there was a motor scooter. The operator seemed a bit new to the machine, and was piddling down the road in a shaky and indecisive manner. he had clearly not discovered his turn signals, because he never used them. This made yours truly a little confused about Scooterman's intentions. At the last minute I decided to make for the sidewalk instead of the shoulder, since I was on a collision bearing with the scooter.

With my eye on the scooter, I failed to allow for two things: that the soil between shoulder and sidewalk was an unknown quantity, and that there was a sizeable tree inside the arc of my turn. (You see where this is going.) The soil was too soft to support a skinny tyred bike making a tight turn, and neatly pitched me into a turn with the tree as axle and my right arm and leg as bearings. Bare skin doesn't make a good bearing surface.

Meanwhile Scooterman had pulled up next the path entrance, and continued to show no sign of normal awareness, not even to look up and say "you all right?"

These are the sort of extensive abrasion that are not so bad now, but likely to be uncomfortable tomorrow. Considering the relative scale of injury, I ought to count this as 2 1/2, not 3. Meanwhile, I'm adding motor scooters to my cycling Enemies List. One ought to expect a shred of fellow feeling from someone else on two wheels, and that may happen with others. This scooterist had left his clue at home.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Stupid rich tricks

Hereabouts, the town issues two sorts of auto permits to those who ask for them and fork over the requisite amount of cash. There is the beach stickah, and there is the dump stickah. One might think the former would be the one with cachet, but the opposite is true. All residents can do with a beach stickah is park at the beach for the few weeks a year when beach conditions are above freezing. A dump stickah allows residents that privilege, as well as access to the transfer station (known to the ancien regime as the incinerator, which it once was), to the recycling centre, to the leaf and brush dump, and to the swap shed, where thrifty Yankees can exchange their trash for someone else's trash. (Think yard sale without money.)

Fastidious newcomers have usually started with a beach stickah, before they overcome their aversion to decorating the family Mercedes with a dump stickah.
The condescending sighs of natives are one motivation. Another is their first autumn, when they find out the town is very stingy with leaf pickup and even stingier with open burning permits. At that moment, newcomers begin to understand the cachet of the dump stickah, which entitles them to a place in the autumn scrum at the leaf pile. The town of late has helped them along by calling the dump stickah a "town facilities permit." (The beach stickah is still just a beach stickah.)

Perhaps this was a bad idea. Traditionally, drivers just stuck the new stickah on top of last year's. When one acquired as many layers as an archaeological site, the whole wad would peel off quite easily. Recently, though, newcomers have begun carefully arraying dump stickahs next to each other, much as people out on the islands line up each year's oversand beach permits.

This has two disadvantages. First, it's the scarlet letter of residency status. The desired effect is to impress people with how many years one has lived here. This is a losing proposition when the family of the guy who plows your driveway may have been here 300 years. Second, most local behaviours have a hard core of common sense behind them. The town seems to have gotten its stickahs from the same place since about the invention of the Model T. The glue is peculiarly stubborn. One stickah at a time won't come off: five or ten piled on top of each other yield to one persistent tug. Thus newcomers will have to endure their humiliation as long as they own their car, and may have hundreds taken off the trade-in value by unsentimental dealers.

Thus do the one percent bite themselves on the ankle.

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Saturday, June 09, 2012

Continuing the pain diaries

More to and fro between this establishment and the Harrumpher, who recounted his late experiences in the demimonde of emergency rooms. I have the sort of job that allows me to say yea or nay to various hospital actions (as in yea you can do that; nay, we won't pay you what you want) I have to have more than a passing acquaintance with evidence-based medicine to do this. A number of medical actions or phenomena have passed across Mr. H's bows in the last fortnight, seeming strange or indefensible, as no doubt they do to most medical consumers. On the other hand I see them almost every week, I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' no babies, but I see a fair amount of orthopaedics in action.

Patients are likely to lose a lot of weight after trauma, mainly because the body is set up to repair major injuries as well and as quickly as possible. You’re in metabolic warp drive; the repair functions make very high demands on your resources. There is related evidence that otherwise healthy people may suffer from malnutrition during recovery from physical trauma, perhaps because the demands of the repair functions are so far ahead of supply.

Hospitals give patients (especially fracture patients) Tums or the like for a couple of reasons. Acid stomach from the meds is one of them, for sure. Another is that the repair function is diving deeply into your calcium resources, and Tums are a good, cheap and readily absorbable source of calcium. Blood loss and replenishment can also throw your calcium balance out of whack. One thing that can happen if your calcium is low is acid stomach; another is that you’ll sneeze a lot. Believe me, H, someone with broken ribs does not want to do that. I deal with the blood part of the business every three weeks when I donate platelets. The Red Cross wants its donors comfortable. It also doesn't want them having paroxysmal sneezes whilst their entire blood supply is being pumped in and out of them.

Hospitals administer laxatives because opiates, even in small amounts, slow or stop the wave action (called peristalsis) that moves food and waste through the gut. This contributes to lack of appetite, but it also causes constipation, and constipation from this cause can lead to impaction and more serious problems. Those of a certain age will remember getting tincture of paregoric for diarrhea as a kid: it's the same principle, and the opiate content of paregoric is low compared to some of the opiates bandied about today.

Relations between patients and clinicians would be far better if the latter would explain why patients should do this or that. Unfortunately, both time pressure and a clubbiness that goes with medical training usually preclude that. The lack of communication has many regrettable consequences.


Pain dynamics, like those of waves at sea, ought to include duration. Many of us with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) live sizeable parts of our lives with little or no pain. We learn to focus on those times, because it helps us to endure the times when the Beast comes to call. Also, most TN patients have a unilateral condition, affecting one side of the brain. It is possible, even in a severe breakthrough, to perform a sort of meditation in which one retreats to the unaffected hemisphere of the brain and dwells there until the breakthrough episode subsides. It doesn't eliminate pain: it just makes endurable the unendurable. Clinical knowledge also helps. In my safe hemisphere I can note the manifestations of the episode as they happen and so concentrate on something besides the pain.

People getting through such things as orthopaedic trauma, heart surgery or cancer treatment are hard put to find such a "happy place." These conditions affect everything one does. In addition to pain, these patients have to put up with roadblocks to almost every activity of daily living: to such an extent that the roadblocks can equal the pain as a challenge.

Every working day, I deal with providers who seem to miss this point, and devote large parts of their treatment plan to throwing opiates at their patients.
The study I cited recently would be especially helpful if it put the brakes on providers who do this, and motivated them to more holistic treatment.

Don't forget: when it comes to dealing with pain, we are all wusses, compared to the generations who lived before anaesthesia and analgesics. Not everyone was heroic, of course, but there was a deeper acceptance of pain, perhaps because there wasn't much choice. One of my favourite reminders (and the historical record is full of them) is the story of a British officer wounded at the Battle of Waterloo. Needing his arm amputated, he endured the operation (they lasted 30-45 seconds) without a sound. At the end, all he said was "bring my arm back. There's a ring my wife gave me on the finger."

I could not do that: could you?

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Friday, June 08, 2012

The medical adventures of Mr Spike, part whatever

I've been so busy with doing the cat health thing that I haven't commented on it, so here's the update.

When we started this little adventure, the jury was split on Spike's diagnosis between lymphoma and inflammatory bowel disease. His course to date strongly indicates the latter: doesn't rule out lymphoma, but the door's open to a variety of other causes. Spike initially responded very well and very favourably to the prednisolone, applied in the outer ear twice daily.

That's the good news. As he grew stronger and put on weight, our sweet kitty (who has never liked being handled) began to register his objections with vigour. My wife had never responded well to aggressive behaviour, from two or four-legged beings. Not only did it become harder to get Spike to cooperate, it grew harder to get C to cooperate. The climax of this was an evening when she picked Spike up diffidently and carelessly, leaving herself vulnerable. Mr Nice Guy bit her, about as hard and deep as a male cat can. I suggested that she needed some topical antibiotics immediately. C resisted (sounds like the cat, eh?), with the result that the wounds became badly infected. She ended up at the local Walk-in clinic getting oral antibiotics and a good scolding.

What with all this, Spike's meds fell off from twice a day to twice a week. He began to decline quickly, indicated by a return to spectacular projectile vomiting...nearly everywhere. In itself, this is not home improvement, although the damage will likely lead to some home improvement. With my inquiring mind, I began to observe wads of plastic coming out with the puke. We went on plastic lockdown as well as returning to the proper medical regimen, to avoid adding to what seemed like a gut full of ill-gotten plastic gains. We've had to reduce his food intake, and we began to withdraw the foods that seemed to set him off more quickly. We are now delighting the local Petco by purchasing a variety of outre, and expensive, food for the sensitive kitteh tum. So far, he deals best with quail and chicken, and tonight duck is on the menu. I don't see why you can't get mouse and rat flavours: both are lean, high in protein and, obviously, the most natural of foods for cats.

All this is to be expected when one is the pet of a cat with IBD. Those who don't want health complications should either get a pet rock or a robot.

However, we take comfort in small things. We have had two days without projectile vomiting (not without vomiting: this is a cat, get real) and if we get through a third day, Mr Spike can have a few more calories. Probably not duck, though: that was not well received, and at $2 a mini-can I have a low tolerance for leftovers. By the way, the unopened food that doesn't work out goes to Friends of Marblehead's Abandoned Animals, supporters of our local no-kill shelter. Go thou and do likewise.

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

More Signs of Dementia

  1. Forgetting my wallet when I go to the store...twice this week.
  2. Thinking that although England has the Bard of Avon, we now have the Bard of Pawtucket.
  3. Still wondering after many years why people who can't spel gud are attracted to the sign-making business.
All for now.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Pain, or...

The Harrumpher recently rearranged his musculoskeletal system in a bicycle accident. In the course of tossing chaff about this to and fro, he mentioned that he was prescribed Oxycodone, found that it didn't do much good for him, and decided to do without it: he chose wisely.

On this subject I present this information for reflection. This falls well within my professional purview. About all I can say legally is that my experience confirms this study absolutely. Too many physicians are too quick on the trigger when it comes to prescribing opiates. In justice to them, too many Americans are too eager to make the pain go away right now, regardless of the consequences. The consequences, all too often, are drug addiction. The TV character of House, with his painkiller addiction, is art imitating life. Opiates, especially the "safe" ones, such as Oxycontin and Oxycodone, are the most prescribed drugs in America.

I have both empathy and impatience for those who fall into this trap. Empathy because I have an experience of pain that will trump most people's when it comes to games of "can you top this." Impatience for the same reason. I do consider that I haven't been tempted by opiates, simply because they might as well be sugar pills for treating my nasty friend. I have my life courtesy of powerful doses of two anti-convulsants, plus a hypnotic to put out the fire when they cannot. Both the warnings of my physicians, and my own experience, lead me to treat the hypnotic about as casually as a high explosive, because it's as addictive as crack. However, does every patient have both clinical knowledge and professional warnings available when it comes to painkillers? That answer is obvious.

We used to let our paranoia run wild and imagine dark foreign conspiracies to turn us into a nation of junkies. That would be a waste of energy, because we're doing a good job without outside assistance.


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Monday, June 04, 2012

I'd rather have tourists

Let us all be joyful. My little town has been invaded by Hollywood, courtesy no doubt of the Massachusetts Film Office. All of this began about a fortnight ago, and is likely to continue well into the summer.

In theory, all this is supposed to be great for business. The film crew's purchases are supposed to boost local businesses. Umm, well, they travel as independently as a Bedouin tribe. They even have their own catering, presumably so that cast and crew aren't tainted by East Coast eating.* Their presence in this place or that is indicated by yellow plastic signs reading "GU 2," with directional arrows and subtexts like "crew parking" or "extras." This doesn't penetrate very deeply into the local mind. The town is a notoriously easy place to get lost in, so anything from a 20-person cookout to a wedding for 500 on The Neck sprouts directional signs. If the signs don't involve us, we filter them out.

A mysterious lighted sign sprouted today, warning that one of our main drags will be shut down from 10 a.m to 1a.m., Friday into early Saturday. It's possible the town is actually fixing something, or that aliens are landing, but smart money is on another film disruption.**

About ten days back, most of my neighbourhood lost its cool when they were shooting on the beach at the end of my street. Almost everyone went wafting down the street to get a whiff of celebrity culture. My spouse and I cemented our reputations as resident curmudgeons by having better things to do. I've seen enough film, stage and video productions to know there's a dreary sameness to all these things, and I wouldn't cross the room to meet a star.

Word is the town is getting paid, directly, a handsome piece of change to put up with this nonsense. It's said that people and businesses who have been directly affected have walked away with large cheques. They haven't pressed any money into my hands yet at any rate.

* OK, I was hasty. Tonight (Thursday 6/7) I went to the first-rate New York deli down the street for our weekly fix and found them pushing out an order of 150 sandwiches for the cast and crew. If they keep that up, I'm converted.

** Suspicions confirmed. The alien landing would have been more interesting...unless they have a chase scene ;-)

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Friday, June 01, 2012

Our beef heah

When my spouse starts to grumble about the conduct of her anointed candidate, you may take it for granted that said candidate is knee deep in shit. The anointed in this case is Elizabeth Warren.

Let's get this straight: The "Native American" riff is journalistic manure of the first water. So was the Swift Boat issue. If Warren and her supporters have the slightest idea that a manufactured non-issue will have no legs because it is a non-issue, I suggest they go have a talk with John Kerry. But Warren seems to act, first and worst, like the anointed. Progressives in Massachusetts do not need Coakley Part Deux, handing a Senate seat to an undistinguished nonentity out of misplaced entitlement. Second, she recalls Lincoln's description of a defeated Union general: "stunned and confused, like a duck hit on the head." Has this woman no advisor who can explain that bullshit forms part of any campaign?

When last I looked, we had all stumbled into the 21st Century. Why doesn't Warren challenge Brown to a DNA sampling, to establish the purity of both candidates? Hah. I identify Welsh first, Irish second, and recognise that a lot of dogs jumped over a lot of fences on the way to that identification. That includes a dose of Swamp Yankee, and that may well have brought any number of racial ingredients into the pie. My y-chromosomes may be a direct descent from the Stone Age, but I bet my mitochondrial side (when I can afford to test it) would be much more diverse. Warren's DNA is likely diverse; so perhaps is Brown's. Good grief, maybe a DNA test would reveal signs of intelligent life among Boston's news media. (We can always hope.)

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